A pied-à-terre to retire in the sun in Florida

5 February 2018

A customer would like to buy a property in a hot country for retirement. It is complicated ?

Above all, safety, health and, most importantly, taxation must be taken into account. Buy is easy. Never be spontaneous. If you have a crush, go back for several weeks.

Ideally, do business with an experienced real estate agent, who knows the market, lawyers or notaries, home inspectors or renovation contractors, and who speaks French.

You also have to consider the distance from Quebec, because if you want to keep your access to our social programs, you must not stay more than 183 days outside Canada for a year. Choose a country that best suits your situation: within four hours of flying from Quebec (Florida, Mexico, Dominican Republic), between four and six hours (Panama, Honduras, Nicaragua, Colombia), between six and 14 hours (Chile, Ecuador, Turkey, Spain, Morocco, Portugal, Cape Verde, Greece, Malta, Slovenia, Croatia), at the other end of the world (Mauritius, Thailand, Bali, Malaysia).

The first choice of Quebecers remains Florida. Despite a rising real estate market, it is more affordable than in California. And you get several flights a day from Montreal or Quebec City.

No matter what paradise you choose, check the frequency and average seasonal price of flights with a travel agent.

Health and taxation

Elsewhere than in the United States or the French territories, clinics or private hospitals designated by your insurer are required. The following countries offer excellent quality and affordable care according to several sources: Panama, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Malaysia, Thailand.

Registration fees, VAT, wealth tax, capital gain on resale, property and housing taxes, abatement: each country has its tax system, its rates and ... its surprises! You may need to file a tax return, as in the United States or France. And if you rent your property, will you declare the income there? Consult an international tax lawyer.

The prices

Several beautiful countries attract more and more retirees and are poorly known to Quebecers: Portugal, Ecuador, Greece (Crete), Belize, Honduras, Colombia. Real estate is still very affordable, but the influx of investors, tourists, retirees and the growth of the local middle class will stimulate prices for many years, making your investment more attractive. The exchange rate also affects your purchasing power.

Before buying

A golden rule: have the property inspected before signing. If you want to take out a mortgage, it is easier to deal with a Canadian financial institution with an antenna in the country.


Take title insurance: in some countries the land registration system is deficient.

Check the cost of electricity (for air conditioning), usually more expensive than here.

Check exclusions and pricing in home insurance, especially in countries at risk for hurricanes, earthquakes and security.

The quality of management and maintenance services is very uneven, regardless of the country. Ask for references.

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